Jessica Harrison, a UK artist, made these wonderfully reconfigured / disfigured porcelain figurines in a series called “Broken.” What I love particularly about the series is how she takes a gesture or pose of the original piece and adds that little extra horrifying bit that perfectly follows the form, yet completes it in a quite surprising and disturbing manner. They’re more than a cheap chuckle, IMHO. Harrison’s work suggests a quiet violence already implicit in the placid pastel colored kitsch.
And limited edition photographic prints of this “Broken” series are available for purchase:
What’s not to like about a day called “Black Friday?” Since such an ominously titled day kicks off the Christmas season, we at the DailyNightmare celebrate with Ten Christmas Monsters.
And as fitting with out snobbish nature, we’re being stickers. By “monster” we’re going all out anthropocentric here and restricting the list to mean non-human. This definition excludes such fine X-mas villains like Volksfrei fanatic Hans Gruber, crabby plutocrat Mr Potter, and even the serial killer from the original slasher film “Black Christmas (1974)” Heck even the White Witch from Narnia who somehow arranged for it to be always winter and never Christmas is human enough not to make the guest list. Evil they were undoubtedly but “monsters” only metaphorically. Honorable mentions however will be handed out along the way for holiday evil in a human shape.
Expect posts about each of the ten Christmas monsters to pop up this month periodically and then, Christmas morning, all of them will be tied together in one mondo long post, for the enjoyment of children naughty, nice and indifferent. It’s an ordered list so it’s building to number one… but for logistical reasons, the monsters will be revealed out of order. Perhaps those logistics will make a bit more sense on Dec 5th.
– What’s YOUR favorite Christmas monster? –
Ten Best Christmas Monsters: Monster Number 7 – The Grinch
Monster? Yes, the Grinch was deliciously non-human as all of Seuss’ best creations were. His deformities went through and through, too. Green skin, odd number of digits, lamentable hair and eyebrows were all external manifestations of inner turmoil and resentment of other folks’ joy. I’m sure the Germans have a word for the Grinch’s condition.
The Grinch was also monstrous because he was depicted as sui generis. Where did he come from, not just as a creature but as a psyche? It’s not like he was really just a mean spirited Hoo. He was a different kind of creature altogether. His reclusiveness had an understandable, ontological basis if not one rooted in the cruel exclusions of a Hooville society intent on normalization and homogeneity. Not buying it? In the least, the Grinch was a mutant since according to the tale, he had a heart condition — specifically, it’s two sizes two small. Seems Doktor Frankenstein could have helped him here.
The Grinch was made legendary with the 1966 animated program “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” (Let us not speak here of the abomination that is the Jim Carrey remake of 2000) The monster was voiced expertly by Boris Karloff, a name synonymous with cinematic horror from Frankenstein’s Monster to Ardeth Bey.
If the Grinch is such a wonderful monster, why does he rank relatively low on the scale? Alas, the Grinch does not stay monstrous. His character arc through the tale has him develop away from being a monster. In a way, that monster-thing was just a phase he grew out of. We imagine that in the sequel, the Grinch has moved into a townhouse in the newest subdivision of Hooville and perhaps works at a crossing guard and not even a creepy crossing guard. We suspect he might even have a cardigan with patches on the elbows. A scary prospect indeed, but not technically monstrous.
Still for letting his bad self out, we at the DailyNightmare.com salute the Grinch as one of the Ten Best Christmas Monsters.
(Male, 30′s) Weird dream alert. I don’t know if this is the kind of thing you’re looking for but it was pretty disturbing to me. Just please don’t print my name, OK? I don’t know where this stuff came from.
It was in some kind of a green area, like a clearing in a woods but also institutional like the courtyard of a school. There was a crowd of people gathered, maybe 20 or so. Women as far as I could tell. They were there to see the Goddess. The Goddess was maybe 20 feet tall. Her head was slightly out of proportion, a bit too large for the rest of her. I don’t think she was wearing any clothes but none of her had much detail. She was kind of abstract like a modern sculpture. But her eyes were closed and she was lightly drifting back and forth like a balloon float in the Thanksgiving parade. She had a peaceful smile. She reminded me a bit of a very large insect pupa. VERY large. But frankly I wasn’t that impressed.
There was the table for a blood oath. Devotees of the Goddess had a folding table set up and were trying to get people to do a blood oath to the Goddess because they hoped that would make her wake up. These were everyday, normal looking suburban housewife type people and they brandished this nasty ceremonial knife.
I watched someone give one of these “blood oaths.” They took the knife and they sunk it cleanly through the middle knuckle of their pointer finger. Then they cut again on the other side and handed the knuckle joint to the two women at the booth. The women collected the knuckles in a ziploc baggie – weird, right? and they gave out a bandage for person who’d made the oath. I didn’t feel convinced that the finger would just heal on its own.
Then the women addressed me. They weren’t so concerned about getting me to give a blood oath, thank goodness but they were concerned about what I had eaten for lunch. Come to find out the Goddess has a life-threatening allergy to tree nuts.
I guess they could tell that I indulge in peanut butter or something because just then the whole crowd of Goddess gawkers turned to look at me. All of them, or at least all the ones could see, had bloody bandages wrapped around their pointer fingers. Suddenly, I didn’t feel very comfortable.
(Male, 40′s) My wife and I were staying at this cheap motel and late at night, we got hungry so we went to the coin operated restaurant they had on the roof. It felt like a real restaurant with booths and menus even but there was no staff working there. Everything was a vending machine.
The place was hopping. I don’t know if the town was really dead for night spots or what but there were lots of “kids” and I’ll use that term to mean people in their early 20′s.
They were honky-tonk punks. That’s the best definition. They wore country western style clothes but all dolled up like they’d read about Elvis in history class. One guy had a big blond pompadour. The other wore a black shirt with silver shirt points and a bolo tie. The girl had a kerchief and boots. They were exuberant and dangerous.
They dropped a bunch of quarters in the jukebox and selected songs with a boom-chicka-boom chicka-boom rhythmn and a loud thundering bass. Rockabilly. They were up to no good, trying their best to kick up some shenanigans but they looked so gosh darned cute. I couldn’t keep my eyes off them.
The kid with the pompadour came over as my wife and I were leaving. We had words. I said something to the effect of “I like your style, kid.”
He snapped back, “You’re a dead man, old man.” He said it all syncopated, like he was a hipster hepcat or something.
“I’ve got a little living left but you’re right. You probably have more joys ahead of you than I do. But when I was young I remember not having much money. Let me pay for your time here.”
“Oh you’ll pay, Pops.”
He approached me and and flicked out a long stiletto knife. Like the rest of his get-up, it was more show than threat but it was still pretty dangerous looking.
By this time, I’d taken out my money clip. He moved in to grab me. For some reason I knew he wasn’t going to stab me outright, that he just wanted to take me hostage and torture me a bit to show off in front of his gang. As he grabbed me, I bent my arm up so I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and the edge of my money clip was right at the side of his throat.
He started in listing all the things a bored stupid thug could come up with to terrorize an out of towner, when I pointed out to him that with a flick of my wrist, I could sever an important artery to his head. Sure he could stab me but the blade would likely go into fat without hitting any organs. He’d be dead before he hit the ground.
The punk didn’t release me. I don’t think I convinced him. I was going to have to kill him, this silly small town would-be thug. At that stand off, the dream ended.
I have often stared at the biographical dates of one historical figure or another and tried to work out exactly what that person was up to when he or she was my current age. Maybe you too. Other figures, often fictional ones, have no set dates, only clues, hints buried in backstory. For instance, what was Viktor Frankenstein like at age 16? Kenneth Oppel takes that question and builds a narrative world on a few references in Shelley’s novel. The first volume recounting this world is This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein(Simon & Schuster, 2011) with a second volume, Such Wicked Intent, due out in August. The boyish looking Canadian auteur came through town last night on a book tour so Elsa L. and myself stopped by Nicola’s Books to hear what he had to say for himself.
I confess that my snobbish tastes don’t warm easily to Young Adult fiction — it feels too often like a “market” rather than an actual “literary type.” The peace I’ve made is that I ask of Young Adult literature the same that I require of horror culture or art in general, namely that it present meaningful reflections on the human condition, mortality, ambition, courage, knowledge, society, desire, etc. And that it do so in language that is suitable if not captivating. On these criteria, This Dark Endeavor passes.
To commend it, well, anything that can get those darned YOT (Youth of Today) to attend to the COY (Classics of Yore) is a good thing, IMHO. There are definitely easier stories to turn into acceptable fiction that youth can be allowed to read in the safety-obsessed culture of ours. Viktor Frankenstein is the original mad scientist / bad father. HE is more a monster than his creature, Shelley’s critique of Byron, I believe. In his talk, Oppel did a double-plus good job of suggesting the dark origins of Shelley’s Frankenstein without going into all the messy intricacies of, um, sex, drugs and romantic poetry. He summed it up aptly by noting something to the effect that “Byron was like a rock star.” Indeed.
In the passage of the novel that Oppel read, Viktor, his twin brother Konrad, and a distant cousin Elisabeth discover a hidden library of occult books — a library the pater familias warns them never to visit again. I couldn’t help but feel this discovery was a potent metaphor especially for Young Adult literature. A large corpus of more dangerous, more “adult” literature lurks gently concealed in Oppel’s tale — the suppressed alchemy of Cornelius Agrippa, the somewhat tragic life of Mary Shelley herself, the insane verse of Byron and Shelley (and I use “insane” lovingly and with affection – see Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jameson Simon & Schuster, 1990). Books, especially those like This Dark Endeavor, are gate way drugs to a wider world of literature, sometimes literature that is hardly parent-approved. But that transition from official bibliographies to personally directed reading lists is a key aspect of development as a reader – as a student – of any literature, whether this shift is expressly transgressive or not.
I was glad to be able to snatch up a copy of This Dark Endeavor and have it signed — sentimental fool that I am. I was lucky too. Kenneth Oppel had visited two middle schools during the day complete with a PowerPoint presentation and had so captivated his audiences that they sold through all the stock they brought with. Perhaps there is hope for those YOTs after all.
THIS FRIDAY – November 18th, 2011 – is the red carpet world premiere of “The 13th Sign” downtown Detroit at the Filmore. The film stars members of Cleveland-based dark industrial musicians Mushroomhead. The band will also be playing at the premiere. Come on out and support Midwestern horror.
A couple things appeal to us about “The 13th Sign.” First of all, I can’t say that I’ve ever attended a movie premiere in Detroit before, let alone for a horror film. May their numbers increase. I wanna see fright flicks premiere everywhere across the Midwest, in decrepit movie palaces and sleazy bars, in run-down urban centers and suburban malls and even at classy places like the Filmore. Let there be MORE Midwestern horror.
Furthermore, “The 13th Sign” looks like a serious horror movie. Not to disrespect purveyors of comedy-horror or camp but we at the Dailynightmare just have to tip the top hat to folks trying to make sincerely scary material. It’s so hard to do. The story seems to be occult-flavored torture which isn’t everyone’s cup of brew, admittedly, but for crying out loud, at least it’s not another zombie movie.
Here’s the teaser trailer (and here are links to other video bits)
And one of my favorite Mushroomhead videos (“Solitaire Unraveling”)
We at the DailyNighmare simply LOVE it when non-horror-related websites post about ooky phenomena like lycanthropy. And you can’t get much farther away from horror than the mild-mannered activity of map-making — I mean apart from that famous serial killer / world explorer from the 16th C. I forget his name at the moment. It made all the history books…
The kind folks at BigThink.com link it to the lycans with this lovely post about a famous map of the British Isles. Devoted fans of the genre are long ahead of the cartographers, and we must forgive their non-professional opinions on the allegedly greatest horror-comedy film — oops, I’ve said too much — but check out the post
And share the luv.
No it’s not some twisted scalp-hunt through the zombie infested streets. It’s something much more civilized. It’s Alive, a fund raiser for St Jude hospital in Orlando Florida got 80 artists to do their thing on a life-sized bust of Frankenstein’s monster. Some are clever. Some a little dumb but some are purely inspired like the Frankenberry I post above.
I am sorely tempted.
Ah, the kind of heart warming tale you just don’t hear enough of any more. Sure the Golden Age of grave desecration was perhaps the pre-Victorian era where cadavers where harvested for medical purposes. The practice, I gather, has largely gone underground, so to speak if this little news bit is any indication.
The guy’s an historian. The lengths that some academics won’t go for research, I tells ya.